Delta Air Lines to Restrict Access to Sky Club Lounges

Overcrowding is pushing the carrier to cap the number of premium credit-card entries, and people holding basic economy tickets no longer will be allowed in.

Delta Air Lines passengers who have long enjoyed access to free meals, alcohol and a quiet place to relax before their flight are in for some major cutbacks in coming years.

The Atlanta-based carrier said it plans to cap the number of entries to its Sky Clubs starting Feb. 1, 2025, for holders of the American Express Platinum Card, as well as the Delta Reserve American Express Card. Those holding the Platinum Card will be allowed six visits per year, while the Delta Reserve Card holders will get 10 annual visits.

Those who book a basic economy ticket will no longer be allowed in Delta's lounges starting Jan. 1, 2024, regardless if they carry a Platinum Card or any other premium credit card.

The news originally was leaked on a Portuguese-language website and was confirmed by a Delta spokesperson.

Long lines to get in

The news may not come as a surprise to Delta customers who have visited a Sky Club at Delta's major hubs like JFK Airport or Atlanta, where lines to access Sky Clubs have been a common occurrence. Delta is poised to open a second lounge in Terminal 4 at JFK to relieve some of the original club's overcrowding.

Partially due to its travel perks, the Platinum Card has become the most popular product for American Express among Millennials and Gen-Z, despite its high annual fee. Free lounge access to Delta's Sky Clubs has long been one of the biggest selling features for American Express to justify its high annual fee to card members, and it's likely to result in AmEx's customers potentially reevaluating paying for the card each year.

Without a premium AmEx card, the lounge is only available to those traveling on business or first-class flights, or those willing to pay $695 a year for a membership.

The news does not impact access to AmEx's 15 Centurion-branded airport lounges, which American Express owns and operates. In a statement, AmEx said despite the changes they expect "the vast majority" of card members will continue to have access to the Sky Clubs based on how much they fly. AmEx customers who spend $75,000 on their card annually — which is far higher than the median AmEx card member spends — will also get unlimited access to lounges.

Along with the lounge cut backs, Delta is also making it increasingly more difficult for its customers to qualify for status on its SkyMiles program. Passengers will no longer earn status based on the number of miles they fly with Delta, but instead will earn status based exclusively on the amount of money they spend with the airline.